Pondliner is a nation-wide distributor of pond products and every year they host the Water Garden Expo for the industry. It’s open to contractors and retailers across the nation and many manufacturers come to show off their newest products. There are two days packed with seminars from the country’s top pond builders, motivational speakers, business persons, web developers etc. Some years they have a pond installation demonstration. This year Helix Life Support, an innovative pond filtration manufacturer, was asked to lead the pond build. Our good friend Eric Triplett, aka The Pond Digger, led the project. Eric called in The Helix Nation and anyone else who wanted to participate.
Eric, myself and about 8 other guys (and ladies) met up with a crew already hard at work. They had a majority of the hole dug and had begun excavating for the plumbing. We went over a few points and began to shape the hole into a pond. We widened it about 3 feet and dug another 18″ down. After several hours the sun was beginning to set and the temperature began to drop.
We were worried we would get frozen out the next day so we quickly installed the underlayment and liner before heading out. We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal by our local Helix Retailer, Mike Miller and his wife, which filled our bellies after a long hard days work (Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Miller!)
We arrived on site the next morning at 7 a.m. ready to get it done. We immediately began finishing up a little bit of excavation we had left to do, stockpiled rock, inventoried our pumps, filters, lights and plumbing. by 7:30 a.m. several guys, including our very own pond wizard Mike White, installed his under gravel filtration setup. This is a custom filtration system that is installed on the bottom of the pond and covered with 6″s of gravel. This type of filtration is to be used with an external pump and will greatly help increase the over clarity and health of the pond. If you are considering an under gravel filtration system it is best to contact your local Authorized Helix Contractor to ensure that it is installed properly. Once the under gravel plumbing was installed, a team immediately began constructing the rock walls from the bottom up. Another team worked on the external life support system, another on the skimmer, and one began working on the logistics for the waterfall. Eric wanted to bring a bit of the So-Cal style to this project. We used a unique style of stacking stone which was was done by our New Jersey crew Fitz’s Fish Ponds and the local boys from Bedrock Nursery.
By lunch time we had the main portion of the pond rocked in and the waterfall was well underway. The skimmer was installed and rocks were placed around it, the external life support was up and running and we began working on the edge treatment. We used a lot of large stone on the job and it required a keen eye to set them and an excavator to move them around.
We had our New Mexico Authorized Contractor Michael Northway directing the stone and Benjamin Timmermans from North Carolina skillfully following the direction of Michael on the excavator swinging 2,000 pound boulders around and setting them exactly where they needed to be.
By this time the “audience” was getting anxious to see the flow of the water through the skillfully constructed waterfall. Setting 2,000 pound boulders is not a task that is easy nor quick. A pond build of this magnitude, although limited on time, should not be rushed.
At this time we were all working on the finishing touches such as the edge treatment, tweaking the rocks, back filling soil, and working on the finished grade. With the 5 machines we had and the 100+ people present, the area was pretty torn up and needed some love. We graded the area, spread topsoil, and were able to add plants and mulch around the pond.
We had an aquatic plant specialist Kelly Billing who kindly shared her years of knowledge with the group on the benefits of aquatic plants in the pond. After she spoke we made some last minute tweaks and turned the pumps on. Within a minute or so, the waterfall came to life and began flowing at maximum flow. Everything flowed just the way we wanted it to. The gravel grid was doing its job, the skimmer was skimming and the two water fall filters along with the external Ultima II were filtering.
By this time the sun was to our backs and unfortunately did not make for a good photo op. We had great weather all day and we were beat. It was now time for us to return to the hotel, shower up and eat a nice hearty meal…. and enjoy an adult beverage or two.
Usually with a job this size and with all the “moving parts” it would take a normal pond crew a week or more to finish. We had over 30 people “in the pit”, over 75 people observing, 2 excavators and two full sized skid steers operating non-stop all day. There was Eric, who lead the job with over 10 Authorized Helix Contractors, and at least 20 other dedicated pond contractors with several new guys whom have never built a pond working side by side with no arguments, very few disagreements… it was nothing but teamwork, smiles and high fives.
I am honored to have participated with such a dedicated group of men and women and stoked we were able to finish the pond in less than 12 hours. By the end of the day, our bodies consumed GALLONS of water and over 30 pizzas along with salad, chips and soda.
If you’re ever in Shawnee, Oklahoma stop by the Pond Pro Shop and ask to see the Renaissance Pond!